Audicom

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Solidyne's Audicom 5 running on Windows 98

Audicom (from “Audio en computadora”, Spanish for “Audio in computer”), released in 1989, was the world's first PC-based broadcast automation system to use audio data compression technology based on psychoacoustics.

The audio card was designed with standard CMOS logic ICs and used hardware to perform an audio data compression algorithm named ECAM, based on the critical bands masking principle, a property of the human ear. Today the same principle is used in all major lossy audio compression codecs. The audio card was plugged into an ISA slot of the PC and worked using direct memory access to the host memory. The driver and the client application were developed by Gustavo Pesci,[1] while the hardware was designed by Ricardo Sidoti and Elio Demaria.[2]

Almost all the radio stations in the world today are using some similar technology, now manufactured by a lot of companies around the world.[3]

History of Audicom's software versions[edit]

Solidyne's Audicom 6.6 running on Windows XP

Audicom (mid-1980s): first version, included a hardware compression audio card: ADX903

Audicom II (1989): most popular version for DOS systems, exported to more than 30 countries. Introduced the concept of Playlist for computer systems, and created the concept of Live Assist. When working in automatic mode, the music was selected from several directories with the /RANDOM command allowing the rotate styles along the day.

Audicom III & 4: not released, but developed internally. Audicom 4 was the first version intended to be a Windows version (for 16 bit Windows), but due to problems in the Win16 platform it was canceled in favor of a Win32 system (Audicom 5). The change (including staff change) caused a delay to the project of two years.

Audicom 5 (Introduced at CAPER 96, commercially available at 1997): first Windows system available. There were two versions (both Win32 applications): ECAM and multimedia. The multimedia version included the option of an 'audio co-processor card' (a compressor-expanser for greater dynamic range with conventional sound cards). New ECAM cards allowd to perform the mixing on the same card. Multimedia version used two cards for mixing and 3 cards for mix and cue (which was pretty hard to install on a same PC). The Audicom 5 introduced a novel concept of Artificial intelligence for selecting music called AutoDJ, which allowed for '1 second precision' to meet the spots schedule on real time (the operator can add or remove titles and the autoDJ will meet the schedule without cut any music). Other novelty was the virtual locutor, which announces weather condition and time (based on a text to speech algorithm). A weather station was available as optional (SMT-100).

Audicom 6 (October 2000): Only a multimedia version. It introduced a new play engine based on DirectX, allowing mixing on the same audio card. First broadcasting audio system to support MP3, allowing cross-fade within two different MP3 files and CUE concurrently (all software decoding). The product was partnered with the PCI audio card SX46.

Audicom 7 (August 2002): Included multiuser support, network ready, included autoEdit (automatic editing of MP3's files without recompressing), full MP3 mixing. Also was partnered with an advanced PCI audio card: DSP48.

Modern systems for radio automation[edit]

In 1983 Oscar Bonello a radio automation pioneer, and Engineering professor at the University of Buenos Aires and Fellow of the AES (USA) start researching about using the recently developed IBM PC computer. The problems that he faced were: 1) Create an audio PC card of good audio quality; 2) Create a bit compression algorithm; 3) Create the Automation software to be run from the PC.[4]

The audio card was designed with standard CMOS logic ICs and perform by hardware the ECAM bit compression algorithm based on the principle of Critical Bands Masking a property of the ear (see a brief History at MP3 ). Today the same principle as the one used by Bonello is used in all the lossy audio bit compression systems, included MP3. The audio card was designed for the old ISA slots of the PC and works using direct access to PC memory. The driver for this software was developed by Gustavo Pesci, a young software engineer, formerly a pupil of Bonello at University. The card hardware was designed for Ricardo Sidoti and Elio Demaria, both brilliant electronic engineers.

The Radio Automation system was launched in 1987 under the name Audicom The software initially ran on DOS and was further changed by Sebastian Ledesma to Windows, using an Artificial Intelligence concept. Twenty years after the original Bonello invention, almost all the radio stations at the world use the same technology, now manufactured by various companies around the world. Mr Bonello refuses to apply for any type of invention patent.

Modern systems typically run on hard disk, where all of the music, jingles, advertisements, voice tracks and other announcements are stored. These computer files may be either compressed or uncompressed, often with a minimal compression as a compromise.

Scheduling was an important advance of these systems—allowing for exact timing. Some systems use GPS satellite receivers to obtain exact atomic time, for perfect synchronization with satellite-delivered programming.

Automation systems are now more interactive than ever with digital mixing consoles and can even record from a telephone hybrid to play back an edited conversation with a telephone caller.

The simplest arrangements can even be done on software as basic as Winamp.

There is also a trend in radio to use voice-tracking production techniques which make the live presenter in the studio, less critical in the overall broadcast; a great number of Internet radio and variety hits stations use automation software and voice-tracking to completely replace live on-air talent

PC cards[edit]

The Audicom cards are a family of PC audio cards developed by Solidyne. They were intended to the broadcasting market and some models included the Audicom broadcasting system.

Solidyne's PC card model ADX922

In the mid-1980s Solidyne, a broadcast manufacturer company, started the project of recording audio in a PC to automate the spots emission (at that time done by cartridges). By that time, the hard disk were very expensive and extremely small (a PC hard drive allowed 10MBytes of storage), so the engineers knew that they needed to develop a system to reduce the required bits as much as possible in order to be successful. The result was the ECAM audio system, the first system was shown to the 'Secretaria de Ciencia y Tecnica de la Nacion de la Republica Argentina' in 1988.[5]

Models

  1. ADX 903
  2. ADX 922
  3. ADX 925
  4. ADX 925 Serie X
  5. SX 48
  6. SX 46
  7. DSP 48

References[edit]

External links[edit]